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EARLIER POEMS BY MISS McLEOD 
SONGS TO SAVE A SOUL 
SWORDS FOR LIFE 



BEFORE DAWN 



BY 

IRENE RUTHERFORD McLEOD 




NEW YORK 

B. W. HUEBSCH 

MCMXVIII 



COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY B. W. HUEBSCH 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



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DEDICATED 

TO 

A. DE SELINCOURT 



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I 



My brain is quick with mighty themes, 
Whose formless passions, blind and dumb. 
Beset my heart, reproach my dreams — 
O, great unborn, your hour may come! 

But I have first one thing to do. 
Which I must do, though all else dies; 
Tell so that all men find it true. 
The Truth in my beloved's eyes. 



CONTENTS 

Now have I ended the vain quest 7 

Folded in a flower 8 

Under the grasses where we lie 9 

Forgive me, dearest, that I weep lO 

A letter 1 1 

Now April's spring of life is come . . . . • 14 

How sweet, how soft the air! 16 

Memories 19 

Spring is gone, and summer's here 22 

Love, I faint in herded crowds 24 

It is long since first I fell 26 

Missing 28 

Life I crave, or death 29 

1 trod this road to-day 35 

He lives! He lives! Now swing wide every gate 37 

I follow in great footsteps when I dare .... 39 

Many shall say I do forget the times .... 40 
Ask how I dare thus lift the bloody veil . . . .41 

Only one simple thing shall make men wise ... 42 

Seeing all fail that custom fortified 43 

Out of the ruins of their shattered gaol ... 44 

And though they cry as they have cried before . . 45 

Sweet, when I think how summer's smallest bird . 46 

Shall I be fearful thus to speak my mind ... 47 



When sane men gather in to talk of Love ... 48 

In heaven there is a star I call my own .... 49 

Between my love and me there runs a thread . . 50 

O heavenly peace, how long since we have slept . . 51 

O friend of my dear love, what have you done? . . 52 

O, be not sorrowful thus distantly! 53 

O Jealousy, all lovers loathe thy name . . . .54 

"How long, I wonder, does it take to die?" . . 55 

Before Dawn 59 

O Love, upon how few thy light 79 

So many die: I watch them go 80 

Asleep 83 

She shines in flesh and blood most clear .... 84 

Youth lies not in a span of years 85 

My blackbird still you come 86 

Discharged — Totally Disabled 87 

happy wood wherein I lie 89 

1 lift my worship to the stars 91 

Before Battle . . . . 92 

To her critics who do not know her 94 

You called me " Youth " because my years are young 95 

Earth smiles in her sleep 96 

Where you are have I been 99 

Maggie Winwood loi 

O my beloved, how to keep friends with time . . 125 



Now have I ended the vain quest, 
Now have I put my heart to rest; 
The flower I sought is withered now, 
The star I followed flickers low, 
The kingdom I had lived to win 
Crumbled to dust when I came in. 

You found me crushed beneath the throne 
My dreams had coveted, alone; 
The king I crowned at my right side 
Proved but my shadow, born of pride, 
And when my star waned overhead 
My shadow dwindled and was dead. 

You lifted me, you kissed my eyes, 
You kissed my heart, and made me wise, 
You kissed my spirit, and I know 
I am but soil where love may grow. 
The flower I sought takes root in me. 
Blossoms for you immortally! 



U. 



//. ; '.,•'. >'. { ,' 'W J /•'-, f,/ 



Folded In a flower, 

I saw God in a bower. 

Folded In a cloud, 

I saw Death in a shroud. 

Folded in your eyes, 

I saw Love's sunrise. 
The flower withered into seed, 
God pushed up with spring's first weed! 
The cloud was melted into rain. 
Death made life on earth again ! 
Your eyes are shut from me and spring, 
My soul lives by Love's quickening! 
Now God, Death, Love, In my heart sing. 
Out of all changing strife 
No end may be, but Life, 
Changeless Life! 



8 



Under the grasses where we lie 

The old quiet dead sleep : 

Among their tombstones quiet sheep 

Graze, and summer larks sing high. . . . 

Only love may never die ! 

Tender as love, or lover's breast, 

Earth spreads sweet thyme against my cheek 

Soft pillowed on a grave: O, speak 

Out of the wisdom of your rest. 

You gentle dead I Is love not best? 

Beloved, bend on me your eyes, 
Eternal truths that light your face; 
They are more fathomless than space: 
A bird of laughter in them cries, 
" We die, but our love never dies! " 

I hear the kindly dead beneath 

Me whisper, "Love . . . love . . . love!" 

Your eyes confirm their truth above 

Me: in the wind I feel love's breath: 

There is no death ! There is no death ! 



Forgive me, dearest, that I weep. 
Forget this heresy, and keep 
A prouder memory than this 
Of tears that spring from our last kiss. 
I shall not weep when you are gone, 
When death and I are faced alone 
To fight the long grey battle through, 
Whose darling prize is love's own — you I 
I shall not weep then: hold me now, 
Beloved! Hear me make my vow I 
Kiss tears and sorrow from my sight, 
I will be proud as joy, upright, 
Keen as an arrow that shall fly 
To pierce death's gloom ! You may not die 
While my thoughts live ! They are like flame 
Burning about your cherished name. 
Deeper than sorrow our peace lies. 
Higher than laughter our joy flies! 
The heart of love is still, yet sways 
Life in Its myriad moving ways. 
And so I sit at the heart of love, 
Swifter than birds my strong thoughts move 
To build for you within hell's gate 
Sanctuary inviolate I 
lO 



A LETTER 

My dearest, since we said good-bye, 
Since the last pain of that embrace, 
Since the last glimmer of your face 
Went out and left the world In gloom, 
I have kept faith: I went to He 
Wrapped In the peace of our loved room 
For comfort — as you bade me go. 
We did not know, we could not know, 
How time has shrouded our own place. 
Beloved, there are grey sheets spread 
Where you and I were used to sit, 
Together, quiet, firellt, 
Speaking our hearts In holy looks; 
Or laughed, or cried, or kissed, or read 
Familiar pages of old books 
We loved; the heaping ash Is grey 
That glowed so bravely yesterday, 
And I must cry, remembering it. 

So glowed my faith when you were here, 
Kindled and fed within your arm; 
It laughed, it dared our vague alarm 

II 



Which sounded fainter then than leaves 

Whose shuddering warns that storms roll near. 

O, easy faith! The heart believes 

The thing It most desires, nor sees 

Evil or death till chance decrees 

The thing unfeared when lips were warm. 

I crept from there, I fled from there 
With hidden face, I could not stay; 
The eyes I love drove me away 
With smile too ghostly sweet. I ran, 
Craving the sun : but all the air, 
The tender April air, began 
Soft whisperings of " Dear, my dear, 
Let me come here I O, I am here I 
You kissed me here but yesterday." . . . 

And over all, the giant plane. 
Whose trailing branches close the round 
Where earliest flowers star the ground, 
Snowdrop, primrose, daffodil, 
And later violet; the lane 
Where flaming gorse and briar spill 
Their poignant smell; the river wall. 
Our daily walk — O, over all 
Some hand has spread a dusty sheet 
Where our sweet love made earth more sweet. 
When you come back — O, soon, dear love I — 
We'll go together, arms entwined, 
And all our perfect world re-find ! 
Your hand shall fling these shrouds aside. 

12 



O, like twin suns we two will move 
All shadows from our world, then hide 
Our tired hearts in our own peace, 
Where noise, and fear, and madness cease, 
Where we may rest, where love is shrined I 



13 



Now April's spring of life is come, 
Voice of lark no longer dumb 
Flings against chaotic sky 
His adoring harmony. 
Sun-loosed brooklets babble through 
Woods that I have roamed with you, 
Daffodils lift smiling bud, 
Laughter skips in lover's blood. 
Children toss their coats aside, 
Earth is every poet's bride. 
O, my darling, were you here 
I could read the vision clear I 
O, my darling, could we kiss 
I could join my soul in this; 
But death has you by the hand. 
While I among the glory stand, 
Impotent, and blind with fears. 
Drowned in memories and tears. 
Every blade of daffodil 
Spikes my heart with anguished thrill, 
Mating birds mock me alone. 
Every hour hangs, a stone, 
Dragging me to senseless death — 
Until you come with kindling breath 

14 



Of love to raise me from this grave 
Of pain I O, then, though winter rave, 
Though earth lie dead, and no birds sing, 
Mine shall be everlasting Spring I 



15 



How sweet, how soft the air I 
Blackbirds and thrushes pipe, 
All blossom buds are ripe; 
Lightened of winter care. 
Larks sing the growing corn, 
And joy new born. 

O earth, thy mindless things 
Obey thy word, " rejoice I '^ 
They give thy passion voice 
From all thy garnered springs : 
Men, to whom all is given, 
Make hell of heaven. 

Men, whom thy love did bless, 
Making divinely free 
To know the truth they see 
By godly consciousness, 
Blaspheme thy freedom now 
With bloody brow. 

On such a day as this, 
So soft, so blue, so fair, 
x6 



This sacrilege they dare — 
Refuse thy golden kiss, 
Fasten their souls on blood, 
And deem it good. 

Mother, thou knowest one, 
Thine own, thy darling child, 
Not blind, not hate defiled, 
But clear-eyed as the sun. 
Thy lover ! he is gone, 
Faithful, alone. 

Into that springless land, 
Into that loveless hell; 
Care for him. Mother, well, 
Cover him with thy hand, 
Put thy love on his soul. 
And keep him whole. 

Over the senseless scream 
Of lust, give him thy birds, 
Under men's hollow words 
Give him thy deepest dream. 
And let him not forget 
Bluebells blow yet. 

But should mad chance return, 
My darling, to thy breast, 

17 



Whence came we, let me rest 
With him in thee, to burn 
Some beauty from our love 
In hearts above. 



i8 



MEMORIES 

In the long feather grass 

Up on the hill, 
Only the mild sheep pass, 

Browsing their fill, 
Only the wind is not still 

Where we once loved. 

Over the quiet hill 

White clouds in fleet . . . 
My love and I were still 

On a day that was sweet. . . . 
Only winged clouds from our feet 

Rose when we moved. 



We climbed the ash with trailing boughs 

To watch the dying sun go down 

In radiant shrouds he nightly weaves. . . 

The harvest moon set on her brows 

The dusky glory of her crown 

To rise and bless her sheaves. 

19 



Then all love's starry eyes awoke 
To smile between the dancing leaves 
On us, because we loved, nor broke 
His golden quiet when he spoke. 



Not a cloud In the blazing sky, 
Not a breeze stirred the heat, 
The long road burnt under our feet, 

In July, one July. 
But over the hedge It was cool, 
Over the hedge we might wade. 
Where the trees spilled their luminous shade 

In a shimmering pool. 
And so we went trespassing there. 

You and I ! You and 1 1 
Where the bracken stood seven feet high, 
And the wood-pigeon thrilled the green air. 
And yellow light dappled the green, 
And water splashed somewhere unseen. 
And little things fled from our feet; 
. . . And all I could see of you, sweet. 
Was your face in a brackeny frame. 
And all I could hear was your voice on my name 

In July ! One July I 



20 



We saw the sun die, royally pyred, 
Then home came we, no sadlier tired 
Then with sweet burden of lived hours, 
And loads of woodland flowers. 

We have a friend — O, happy we ! — 
Whose spirit soars enchantedly; 
On dancing keys her fingers move 
To sing our song of love. 

Our foxgloves reared ecstatic throats, 
Each bell flew wide to magnet notes, 
While we, no less obedient, found 
Our day dawn new in sound. 



21 



Spring is gone, and summer's here, 
They're bringing up the hay; 
Soon they will be harvesting, 
And my love's still away. 
I see the apples reddening, 
And yellow burns the wheat. 
Lovers sit in summer's heart 
And sing to summer's beat . . • 
But my love's still away. 

He lies there, he cries there, 

I hear him night and day; 

I cannot hear the birds sing, 

For my love's still away. 

I'll not go through the clover field. 

Along to Foxglove Wood, 

Nor climb the ash on Chapel Bank 

We chmbed in happier mood . . . 

For my love's still away. 

We hated never man nor beast. 

Our hearts were pure and gay, 

We worshipped love in gentleness, 

But they took my love away. 

22 



They sent my darling butchering 
Other women's dears, 
And, O, the cries of women's hearts 
Ring tolling In my ears . . . 
" They took our loves away! " 

O summer lanes, O summer fields 
That smell so sweet of hay. 
When this Is done and truth Is won, 
Though my love's still away. 
May happier lovers love here 
Where I so lonely tread. 
And build a shining city up 
Over our murdered dead . . . 
Though my love's still away. 



23 



Love, I faint in herded crowds, 

My spirit cowers from them in shrouds 
Of pale, fastidious contempt : 

1 beat my pride, and cry, " Exempt 
Yourself, O heart, from human kind. 
Climb too aloof, or stay behind, 
You rot, you die! Do they offend? 
May love be stiff necked? You must bend. 
Learn tolerance, accept, come down. 
Love never wore disdain for crown I " 

But now I can no more forbear! 

Dear earth is blood-soaked; everywhere 

These puppets mock her pain! 

O Love, they wear a bloody stain 

Over their lightless brows ! Their faces 

Mouth such monotonous grimaces 

Of joyless smiles and griefless gloom 

As they have smirked and glowered from womb, 

Through youth, to age ! These bear the brand, 

O Love, of guilt! This is the hand 

That wrings the world of life ! O, these 

Batten on death like flies! They squeeze 

Faint, unaccustomed, sensuous thrills 

24 



From the heroic life youth spills. 
I do condemn them; nor forgive 
That true men die because they live : 
Because they made of peace a thing 
Stagnant as death; because they lay, 
Not knowing love, nor work, nor play, 
With flabby bodies, hearts of clay; 
Because they have blasphemed divine 
Beauty thou gav'st like light to shine 
Thy holy word abroad; because 
They daily broke thy gentle laws; 
Because their children all were born 
Of loveless custom; because they scorn 
Thy prophets. Love; because they buy 
And sell all things — true men must die I 
Love, dar'st thou ask me to forgive 
That my love dies while these still live? 



25 



It is long since first I fell 

In this evil trance: 

What foul adder's poisoned spell 

Stung, amid the dance 

Of my delight, my soul to sleep, 

To walk in dreams this craggy steep? 

It is long since I have heard 

Music of your voice; 

Long since love in your eyes stirred 

My spirit to rejoice; 

Long, O long since I have known 

Peace from your touch sweetly grown. 

Now all the world is plunged in hate, 

Men weep blood for tears, 

All hell's legions lie in wait, 

Apathies and fears, 

Cold despairs, and all dead things 

Hang upon love's broken wings. 

I, snake-bitten, cannot wake, 
And my sleep is pain; 

26 



How shall I this cold spell break 
Whose separate strength is vain? 
Far from me you writhe with those 
Ghouls who on my spirit close. 

Yet are there no walls dark and strong 

Love's heels may not o'erlap. 

O, come I O, rouse me with your song! 

Break — break this hideous sleep! 

O, raise me up from where I lie! 

Come soon, O, soon, before I die! 



27 



MISSING 

I KNEW by their eyes when they came, 

Lips locked on a word unsaid, 

Hands gentle as pity, or death . . . 

It was I who cried out on your name : 

Life paused on a breath. 

"Missing." . . . Hope sprang like a flame I 

Not dead! O, my love, not dead? 



28 



Life I crave, or death; 
Give me the kiss or the blade I 
Men battle and die on a breath, 
But women who love them must wade 
Up to the lips in a sea 
Bitter as death; they are flayed 
To the soul, yet await the decree 
Of a chance, live till the game is played : 
So is it with me. 

Bone of her bone she sends forth, 
The mother who travailed, and so 
By her anguish found life's utmost worth. 
And the worth of these trumpets men blow, 
Calling her children to kill, 
And swell with her blood the red flow 
Of earth's dearest life . . . while some fill 
Money-bags by her woe! 
Soul of our soul is the price 
They barter with lovers for pride 
Of the nations, sacrifice 
More fitting the cause One has cried 
. . . Dear prophet of peace upon earth . . . 
Saying " Love ! " and praising life, died 
For the fair law's birth. 

29 



O life of my life, O my friend, 

Fellow-traveller, lover, beloved 1 

Fiends have torn you from me! O, they 

rend 
Me, they scourge ! I am moved 
By their blows In foul ways, 
So blinded with pain and harsh tears 
That fall. O, where are the days 
We made everlasting? We proved 
Death a lie, yet his legions of fears 
Close on me I Caught in his maze 
Am I, beloved! Beloved I 
O, have we no power to o'erleap 
These prisons of flesh, and take wing 
Through this darkness, till each 
Thrill on the other, and sing 
With one voice, with one speech. 
As we used, " Death's a lie I A lie I '' 
O, arrowy spirit, come where I weep 
In the dark, for without you I die. 

Can evil touch one like you? 

Gentlest, radiant soul! 

O, where is the good and the true! 

O, where Is the heart of my faith, 

If evil have force to take toll 

Of our love, and with poisonous breath 

Put out the light of our goal? 

Not a pore of you harboured hate, 

30 



Not a corner gathered the dust 

Of lies from which other men's fate 

Springs to the monster who must 

Destroy them . . . for men create 

Their gods of beauty, or lust, 

And lies give birth to death, 

But love has a power to save, 

We said . . . then what of my faith 

If you lie, O my sweet, in the grave? 

Ah, there strikes the root 

On my burrowing! Sorrow goes 

No deeper: " Give us the yea, or the nay," 

Is the cry of the heart in throes! 

** Show us the certain way! " 

. . . Earth flutters her sweetest rose, 

Speaks that her seasons may, 

No more! . . . How often have we, 

Closed in our soft embrace. 

Your lighted eyes on me. 

Clasped face to tranquil face. 

Felt ourselves one with earth; 

With her soil of the rotted leaves, 

No less than the golden mirth 

Of daffodils, or the sheaves 

Of harvest under the moon: 

How many times we said, 

" O, three score years is soon 

When we two shall be dead! " 

Yet kissed, and laughed, for the boon 

31 



Of flesh to spirit wed 

For the short, sweet space, 

Nor grudged to give again 

Our life to life, repay 

Our debt to the utmost grain. 

— Ah, three score years ahead! 

With yet countless hours for play! 

But death to the heart In its Spring, 

Death to the mind In shoot 

For Its harvest of age, the wing 

Broken before its flight. 

My young love slain for loot 

Of war? . . . O, where is light? 

Sweet, where you are, do you know 
How I live on this treadmill of hours? 
Eating and working . . . and sleep. 
When my body is wearied enough: 
LIghtless and guldeless I go, 
A ghost at earth's festival; creep 
Leaden-footed to trample her flowers. 
Grief-maddened to give her rebuff 
For her smiles; all I crave is the deep 
Silent heart of her, there 
To lie, from compassionate eyes, 
Or scornful, of men, and the care 
Of folding locked lips on my cries, 
And holding the shroud I must wear 
For a banner of courage, free; 

32 



Free to abandon, lay bare 

My weakness that no man may see, 

My shame for her pity to keep 

Till your voice, voice of life, bids me rise. 

My shame ! O, my failure ! My shame ! 

Beauty everywhere mocks me with this : 

She comes in the dawn like the light 

Of our love, glowing rose, like our kiss, 

With the swallows at dawn on your name, 

Crying, with the last star awake 

In the dawn, which broods like your sight 

On my grief, saying, *' Live, for my sake I '* 

As you cried to me once in the night, 

Our last pitiful night: 

She comes with the moon sailing high. 

Thrilling the clouds to delight 

As she passes them royally by; 

She laughs with your laugh in the wind; 

She weeps your soft tears in the rain. 

Crying, " O, how shall I find 

You, beloved? I seek you in vain 

In the city we built ! O, you break 

Faith ! You live not for my sake I *' 

O, my lover, this thing you ask 

Is my highest; pity me then, 

Let me lie for a merciful space 

Hid from the contact of men 

And the habits of living; grant grace 

33 



To gather my strength for the task! 

For the pride you demand, well I know, 

Was never the pride of the mask, 

Poor lie for a coward to show, 

While a canker of death at the heart 

Outward to husk devours! 

... As the growth of our love was slow 

As divine unfolding of flowers, 

This courage for life must grow; 

Kindle each dying part 

To the springing of unknown powers. 

That I live as you bade me live. 

Though my heart beat under the knife, 

Thrill to life as before. 

Love for men's love give. 

Beauty of earth adore: 

So shall my spirit move, 

Spirit you took for wife. 

With yours, O my love, my love! 

With yours, my comrade of life 1 



34 



I TROD this road to-day 

Under a windy sky, 

Where swallows soared at play 

With silvery flash and cry; 

And rooks wheeled over the corn, 
But beauty of earth was gall, 
And the cry of the birds was scorn, 
Mocking my darling's call. 

My blackbird, sweetest note, 
Note of the heart's clear bliss . . . 
Out on him, traitor throat . . . 
Derides a ghostly kiss. 

Birds, and water, and wind. 
Music for hearts at play, 
Are grown to me unkind, 
And I hate day. 

I hate day, love night; 
Now, now I see, I hear! 
Now my love's eyes shed light I 
Now my love's call sings clear I 

35 



Now his eyes brood and shine 
From the impassioned stars, 
Now my love's life is mine, 
And no noise mars 

The peace of quiet things, 
Gentle in holy sleep; 
Only the owl's hushed wings 
Make silence feel more deep. 

Night makes him all my own. 
And soul on soul we move, 
Wrapped In her peace, alone 
With our sweet love. 



36 



He lives! He lives! Now swing wide every 

gate 
Upon thy kingdom, earth I O, take me in ! 
Now have I eyes to see thy beauty! Now 
The sun rolls from his long eclipse, and hate, 
Attempting worst, has failed, and terror's din 
Sinks from the peace of Love's hand on my brow. 

So long, so long have I in exile lain 
Crouched In the dark, nor moved in any light 
Save memory's. I saw no flowers but those 
Of last year's blossoming, and they, for rain 
Of dewy peace, drooped thirstily. Now white 
And thornless springs this summer's crowning 
rose ! 

Now lift up all your cups, you little flowers ; 
Smile, smile upon my joy! O fields, 
Bow all your grasses to my laughter ! Sing, 
Sing, my lark, my blackbird, for Death cowers 
To Love triumphant! Sing, for now he yields. 
He dwindles in the shade of Love's bright wing! 



37 



O, all you hearts whom sorrow has not killed, 

Share, share my joy! O, passing eyes 

Of strangers, rest on my sweet peace, and you, 

Less happy, hate me not for envy; stilled 

To utter gentleness, my new heart hears your 

cries, 
Steels to resolve . . . this shall men no more do. 

Since Love has spared me on fair earth to live, 
Given me joy to make me more than clay, 
Given me my beloved, from whom streams 
My light, my life; for all Love's gifts I give 
My life in his, to bring men's night to day, 
My brain, heart, hands, to serve men's nobler 
dreams. 



38 



I FOLLOW in great footsteps when I dare 
In Shakespeare^s and great Dante's way to write 
My love of you; yet do not thus compare 
These songs I can but lisp for your delight 
With our gods' giant perfection; only hear 
How I, so small, one hand of theirs might cover 
All that I am, have courage to speak clear: 
Even he who had that fair Unknown for lover, 
And he who worshipped Beatrice the divine, 
Making for them fair worlds which we inherit, 
Have never seen your eyes, new waking, shine, 
Nor nothing know of your heart's lovely merit I 
Also, beloved, pride inspires my pen 
When I do think they could but love like men ! 



39 



Many shall say I do forget the times, 
Turning my eyes from death to sing of love, 
For love is dead, they say, and lover's rhymes 
No more have grace men's burdened hearts to 

move. 
But I, too long death's constant intimate. 
Making one grief in that vast sisterhood 
Whose only life is still to hope and wait 
Till hope's cause be removed, and whose best good 
Snatches from death maimed men all too secure — 
Having most weary leisure to survey 
These times, yea, time itself, whose years immure 
My chafing spirit from our realms of day. 
Still cry: " Love lives ! " Even now he rends the 

gloom 
Which we, forgetting him, once made his tomb! 



40 



Ask how I dare thus lift the bloody veil 
From hate's black maze on love's futurity, 
And I shall tell how once we two set sail, 
Twin ships of joy upon a summer sea : 
And I shall tell how neither sun, nor star, 
Nor compass we required to keep our charts — 
Though all foul winds blew storms to drive us 

far — 
For our one course was writ on our two hearts; 
And we, obedient, sought no other sign. 
Though many warned us we should surely stray. 
Until our sight, grown faithful, could divine. 
Writ in our love, the dawn of a new day. 
Therefore, if I am bold I am made so 
To brave faint sneers, and speaK the thing we 

know. 



^I 



Only one simple thing shall make men wise, 
Only to cast their laws of fear away, 
Only to fix on Love unanswering eyes. 
And him in all things only to obey. 
This all Love's faithful host have once pro- 
claimed, 
Shakespeare and Dante, Shelley, Herbert, Donne, 
And all the angelic band, yet they are famed 
Little for this which most their bays has won. 
For hard it seems to hear most simple things, 
And though the world is learned in countless 

themes, 
The blackbird in the hedge unheeded sings. 
And children have more wisdom In their dreams: 
But still Love speaks, and men shall pause to hear 
When fear of him shall cast out earthly fear I 



42 



Seeing all fail that custom fortified, 
Worn practises of earthly monarchy, 
Statecraft in bloody history long dyed, 
Churches whose gods killed God in rivalry; 
Seeing all these which men with patient hands 
Laboured through aeons against the light to rear 
From dark foundations built on shifting sands 
To monstrous towers of commerce piled in fear; 
Seeing all these fast crumbling at their base. 
Too weak to bear that shameful heavy head 
Crowned with unwieldy gold, which every race 
Sweated from broken hearts of their own dead: 
Seeing all these rock In Love's wrathful breath, 
Shall men not turn to him who conquers death? 



43 



Out of the ruins of their shattered gaol, 
Whose ancient gaoler, Greed, lies choked in dust, 
Love, singing now, to soothe their fretful wail, 
Shall loose their irons, festered in with rust; 
Yea, though they run from him, he Is so strong. 
He has such patience to outmatch their haste. 
Such gentleness, he will not leave them long 
In these poor passions life and joy to waste. 
Though with wild eyes and foaming jaws they yell 
Impotent oaths in his down-brooding face. 
Smiling, he shall deny them their prized hell, 
And lift them to his heaven by his grace. 
That they, by Love so sweetly overcome, 
Shall vow his heart their city and their home. 



44 



And though they cry as they have cried before, 
Love's laws lack glory when he bids them do 
No more than love, yet soon they shall adore 
His simple wisdom, and account it true. 
Slowly, with scarce an effort, they shall see 
How that they honoured least is most, is all; 
Not, as they deemed, a jest, a frailty. 
Nor a hot fiend whose lusts hold men in thrall. 
But something more and something less than these. 
In June's least tender bud it sleeps and grows, 
Waiting its chosen hour when it shall please 
Burst the green husk of truth, or of a rose : 
Then bards of death shall cast their arms, and 

throng 
Like babes to be instructed in life's song! 



45 



Sweet, when I think how summer's smallest bird 
May better sing of Love than I who love you, 
That I can sing no note you have not heard 
More purely sung by larks in skies above you, 
I am downcast, forswearing my dull pen — 
Did I not pause to think how birds go wooing. 
How envious shame kills not the little wren 
Because the ring-dove thrills the glade with coo- 
ing; 
Nor does the speedwell fail to lift her blue. 
Small face to match the glory of the sky; 
Content to know her tiny worship true, 
She smiles on boundless heaven steadfastly: 
Then, dearest, I, your speedwell and your wren. 
Learning from these, take back my banished pen. 



46 



Shall I be fearful thus to speak my mind 
Lest certainty steal virtue from our joy? 
More common men prize all their greed may bind 
Save love, whose sweets possessed they dread must 

cloy. 
Possessed! Who speaks that word of love blas- 
phemes, 
Or else, too dull, he merits not our scorn. 
Such fools, save when they sleep, are shut from 

dreams; 
In custom are they bred, of custom born, 
And daily rise to earth's beneficence 
With eyes by long assurance turned to stone. 
To every natural wonder hugely dense, 
And most to love, whose peace they dare not own ! 
Could I have chosen you from this poor flock? 
And, loving, shall we fear to build on rock? 



47 



When sane men gather in to talk of Love, 
Sometimes I lend an ear to their discourse, 
Holding my tongue while those more learned 

prove 
How this experience that creed must endorse ; 
How human nature — wretched scapegoat — 

shows 
Monogamy in males Is nature's freak; 
How marriage laws — as every woman knows — ■ 
Were framed by men to render women meek; 
How men own nobler brains, or women, souls; 
How sexual education still is rotten — 
And so the mossless pebble onward rolls: 
All these are true — but somehow Love's forgot- 
ten! 
Let them that know not Love apologise ! 
We lovers know ourselves the only wise I 



48 



In heaven there is a star I call my own — 
Some other name she has which I ignore — 
Most bright she is, and somewhat moves alone, 
With this peculiar grace which I adore — 
She has a look of my beloved's eyes, 
When they, so steadfast, meditate on me. 
And, like his love, no comfort she denies, 
But lights my saddest darkness faithfully. 
Another grace to this she adds, moreover: 
Living so high, she owns us both her wards. 
Our separate griefs her common beams discover. 
And, war and death surmounting, say, " Love 

guards I " 
O gentle star, thy lovely vigil keeping, 
Draw up my love to shower on him sleeping I 



49 



Between my love and me there runs a thread, 
So hght that some would say it scarce could bind, 
Nor does it serve this use, which hearts too dead 
For love's sweet grafting, profitable find. 
O, not for chains our airy thread was spun 
From fair material of our delight, 
When, ever keeping noon, our suummer sun 
Betrayed no shadow of approaching night; 
But that through fear's illimitable hell. 
Through dangerous seas of griefs and pains un- 
known, 
We be not wholly lost, but still may tell 
Faintly, each where the other moves alone. 
When wilt thou backwards spin, O faithful twine, 
Until no space divides his heart from mine? 



50 



O HEAVENLY peace, how long since we have slept, 

Cradled In joy, in thine enfolding arms ! 

O love, how long that we have prayed and wept. 

Still insecure from watchful death's alarms ! 

O love, O peace ! — Or is there none to hear? 

It is too long; we are so tired now. 

O aching hours ! O memory, longing, fear — 

O strength despairing — hopes that strive and 

bowl 
O love, how I am fallen! Can you see. 
Beloved, through this gloom, my poor disgrace? 
O, send your stronger hope to rescue me ! 
O, give me dreams where I may know your face ! 
Come, come, my darling! Life, joy, reason, 

come! 
Let me not die ! O, bring me safely home ! 



5J 



O FRIEND of my dear love, what have you done? 
You whom he gave his rich heart's lovely treasure, 
Whose value none but I have known, no, none, 
Though all to pour on you was his sweet pleas- 
ure — 
You have betrayed his too believing trust, 
But so betraying struck a double blow, 
For when to murder him was your young lust. 
You wounded me, whose strength you could not 

know! 
Poor eyeless soul, when he laid bare his heart, 
Saw you not curled within Its gentle flame 
This scorpion janltress, whose watchful part 
Is to destroy who comes his heart to maim? 
Nay, if I sting you not It Is his will, 
Who, being Love's most faithful, loves you still. 



52 



O, BE not sorrowful thus distantly! 

In this injurious grief you do me wrong; 

Struck by another's hand, you banish me, 

Turning impervious ears to my soft song. 

O gentle tears, not for my image shed, 

Most purely sprung, yet dropping turned to gall, 

You make a sea in which our joy lies dead. 

Sunk like a stone, almost beyond recall. 

Almost, I say! For sorrow's deepest cup 

Is not too deep for my love's thirsty power! 

I'll be your sun to drink this poison up, 

And kiss our sweet drowned joy to heavenly 

flower! 
Dear, when my rays have blessed your eyes awhile. 
Will they look up on me, new lit, and smile ? 



53 



O Jealousy, all lovers loathe thy name, 
Thou inky shadow, walking still with Love! 
Thou art not Love's, yet blotching his fair fajnc, 
Waiting thy time, thy steps in his steps move. 
Thou canst not die : thou hast no life to lose, 
Else hadst thou fallen by my many blows; 
Like death, thou canst not speak, and we must 

choose. 
Accept thy hidden thorn, or drop the rose. 
How many times hast thou in darkest night 
Pounced on my heart, and leaped with me to death, 
Where none could see my pain for lack of light, 
And none to follow me had any faith ! 
But not thy foulest pit my heart can hide 
From one who loves me more than peace or pride ! 



54 



" How long, I wonder, does it take to die? 

I'm tired of pain, and that damned cloudless sky. 

It's June in England now." 

^'Ach Kamerad!" 
" A Boche, by Jove ! Well, I can't move, old lad. 
Can you reach out your hand? There, have a 

swill. 
I shan't need any more: IVe had my fill. 
I'm done." 

*' I also — thank you — but it makes It less 
Difficult, water." 

" You speak English? " 

" Yes. 
I had an English friend when I was young; 
He taught me how to speak your Shakespeare's 

tongue. 
I loved him: he was my David. For two years 
We shared our work, and play, and hopes, and 

fears. 
But he is surely dead. They all are dead. 
Perhaps he fell by my accursed lead. 
That's war." 



55 



" Man, what's your name? I seem to know 
Your voice. I stayed in Stuttgart years ago; 
I graduated there." 

" Stuttgart! You say 
Stuttgart! My home! " 

*' Man, turn your face this way! " 
" Wait, I can roll — ach, Gott I — yes, now I see 1 
It is! It is I John!'' 

"Hans! God pity me!" 
"John! O, my friend — my friend — " 

" and we are dying ! 
"O, Hell! Hell! Hell!" 

" Ah, stop your crying, 
John, or I shall die before we speak 
Of our old times. My eyes are getting weak. 
I can't see very well, but you are changed." 
" Dear lad, you're older too, I think. We've 

ranged 
Heaven and hell since then. Are you in love? " 
*' Yes, I am married, John." 

" Hans, could you move 
A little nearer? Put your hand in there. 
Look, that's a bit of my sweet darling's hair. 
When men are dying, Hans, they need not hide 
Their tears." 

" Ah, John, we never had that pride. 
What pretty hair ! It's like my baby's curls." 
" Babies, old man? " 



56 



"Yes, John; two little girls. 
O, they are sweet ! I'll show you — damn I The 

blood 
Has spoiled their faces, and it was so good. 
Do you remember how we used to sing 
'Das Vaterland'?" 

" Yes, and ' God save the King ' 
In parts ! You couldn't keep your bass in tune I 
O, Hans, can you believe this hell is June? 
How we loved June in Stuttgart! O, those 

nights 
Under the stars! I've seen such filthy sights 
Since then — it's all mixed up — how long ago? 
I'm twenty-four: five years: a man does grow. 
Hans, what's it all about, this bloody war? 
What is this thing we've killed each other for? " 
" Our countries, John." 

" Hans, put your arm round me. 
Hans, what's a country when your eyes can see 
Past death ? What have we done, we two, 
That we should die to make an old word true ? 
Who made this war? We didn't. But we die. 
I wonder how the old ones feel. Some cry; 
But they are mostly women, scarred and bowed 
With grief and dead experience. My Dad's 

proud 
Of his three sons In khaki." 

" So Is mine 
Of his in grey. They drank the oldest wine 

57 



When I came out to die. They'll celebrate 

My honourable death with deeper hate 

And fiercer pride, and send the youngest out 

To put the Fatherland's vile foe to rout." 

*' O God, the things they say I Hans, they don't 
know 

The truth of war, or they'd not blather so. 

How many more must die before they learn 

The truth at last? How much more beauty burn 

To ruin ? O, the waste ! And what's the end ? 

What will they gain because I killed my friend? " 

" You did not kill me, John. 

My country did. 

And I became my country when I hid 

My free soul in this slavish uniform. 

John, I can't feel my hands ! Is my hand warm ? " 

" No, cold as ice : we're dying. Hans, your eyes 

Are just as blue." 

" John, when this body dies 

Is that the end?" 

" I do not know, my dear." 

" What will our women do ? O John, I fear 

Death — kiss me, John." 

" His lips are stone 1 

Hans! Speak! My God, he can't — he's gone. 

O, damn! Damn! Damn! Curse all who 
made us die! 

Warmongers — butchers — O, my sweet — good- 
bye." 

58 



BEFORE DAWN 

Scene. A bed-chamber. 

Time. Any year of time, at night. 

Dramatis Persona \ ^ r\ 

(A Queen. 

Queen 

Sleep, my babe, as yet unborn 
To our heavy world's sad scorn, 
Still in my safe keeping grow 
Strong to bear man's bitter woe. 

Weak, and proud, and blind, and free, 
Soon shalt thou be torn from me, 
Then not all my love may save 
Thee from sorrow and the grave. 

O my babe. If I could keep 
All thy life in this warm sleep, 
Never shouldst thou sorrow know, 
Neither should thy manhood grow. 



59 



my baby, could I give 
Thee my tutored soul to live, 
Thou shouldst know, by all my pain, 
What is loss and what is gain. 

But love will not suffer this; 
By thy pain and by thy bliss 
Thou must find thy heaven, sweet — 

1 may only kiss thy feet. 

King 

Dearest, your eyes are wet. Why do you weep? 
Come closer: let me fold you: sleep, O, sleep! 
Soon comes to-morrow with a thousand things. 
Duties — acts — fears, to clip our wings. 
Thus, folded close, we make one truth, one joy, 
One love not all hell can destroy. 
And so we fly, instinct and reason one 
Supreme desire, to mingle with love's sun. 
You tremble, and you cry still? 

Queen 

Dear — my dear — 
I dreamed! O, hold me — closer — still more 

near! 
Would our lips, limbs, hearts might mingle 
Until our life dissolved to make a single 
Happy dream ! Would we might make a sea 

60 



To drown this drunken world's dark ecstasy 
Which makes a brothel of fair earth ! O love, 
O faith, O sorrow ! Is there no power above 
Men's lusts? Must these to wreck each others' 

strength 
Drag all to ruin, till love dies at length, 
Starved of his natural joy? 

King 

What was your dream, 
Beloved? Wait, the candle's cheerful gleam 
Will scare these ghosts ! 

Queen 

Dear face, I dreamed you dead. 
Smeared black with blood — and all this beauty 

fled. 
O, sweet to see you ! Though the light is frail 
And makes strange shadows. Dearest, you are 

pale. 
Your eyes are beacons! Too much like God's 

eyes ! 
Too deep, too bright, too sorrowfully wise 1 
Look on me humanly a little while. 
Kiss me, dear lips. Dear eyes, look up and smile. 
Ah, how I love you ! 

King 

Yet you cry ! You cry ! 
6i 



Queen 
You are my life : life fails me when you die. 

King 

Why do you harp on death? 

Queen 

It is my dream. 
Hush, I will tell you. First I saw a stream, 
Like blood or lava, burst with hideous force 
Earth's flowering heart. Swiftly it made its 

course 
From city unto city, sweeping in 
Beauty and squalor, innocence and sin. 
Men shrieked and filled their temples, calling loud 
On God, but He, wrapped in a gorgeous shroud 
Woven of ages, mocked them with glassy stare, 
Until they spat on Him, crying, " He is not there ! 
O, where is God? God's dead! There is no 

God!" 
And stamped His stony face in the dark sod. 
And still the fiery river swiftlier ran, 
Until no monument of labouring man 
Was left to speak of time, but tottering piles 
Of ruined stones heaped doom and death, and 

miles 
Of sombre waste spread from the cities' bounds. 
Invading the green fields : and the sole sounds 

62 



I heard were dying groans, and the sole light — 
O, woe — shone from your face, whose fading 

sight 
Willed me to life I O, cruel to bid me live 
Alone in a dead world! 

King 

Was this the end? 

Queen 

No, worse, O, worse ! Joyless, without a friend, 

A hope, a comfort, I lay down, outworn 

With grief: and in that hell our babe was born. 

But with no mortal voice his first cry rang. 

And with a giant growth his body sprang 

To immediate strength, till like a seven-year boy 

With firm, quick leaps he ran, obsessed with joy I 

He gave no heed to me, but turned to climb 

Those monstrous tombs. Then, as a sudden 

chime 
Pierces with hope of dawn the sufferer's night. 
His voice soared up in roundels of delight: 
" O peace ! " he cried; " O peace ! This world is 

mine! " 
And from his eyes there streamed a light divine. 
Darting huge thoughts so terrible and keen 
I trembled; and I wept, for I had seen 
That world he claimed his own : it was a grave. 

63 



But he, enthroned on death, sang: *' Peace! I 

save! 
O life! O joy! . . ." and then I woke, and 

heard 
Your voice, and in my side our unborn stirred. 
O then, remembering how even now 
Men's rivalries in hate stain man's sad brow, 
How on each side they call on you, my king. 
To join their lustful causes, murmuring 
At your elbow that you still refuse 
To brawl with them, and your high state abuse 
With guiltless blood, nor harry men to kill 
Their brothers, whom these ghouls embroil to fill 
Their itching palms — all this remembering, I 
Did weep, and made that mournful lullaby. 

King 

Is there not triumph in this dream? 

Queen 

Dear lord, 
You look so strangely. Speak some homelier 
word! 

King 

Was it not triumph! Though worlds crack and 

fall. 
Our babe sits, simply singing, conquering all. 
See you no hope in this ? 

64 



Queen 

Dear love, since long 
You have been secret. Speak, for I am strong. 
Yes, though I weep, I have a heart to bear 
All that endangers you. We love. We share 
One life. Thank you, sweet friend, for this. 

King 

Men's rivalries besiege our life — one kiss. 

O, when I look thus all adoring down 

On you, I feel the glory of my crown ! 

Not that false crown chance placed on my young 

head. 
Which heavier weighs on me than shameful lead 
But this of heavenly gold which none may see 
Save you, my fount of joy, who gave it me. 
No. Do not shut your eyes. You must endure 
My longer worship. How your heart is pure, 
My darling. I can see its deepest deeps. 
There, by your love made whole, my image sleeps. 
Your fire has burned him clear of every flaw; 
By you perfected, strong to serve love's law, 
He waits his time. What love shall ask of him 
He shall achieve. Though all life's stars grow 

dim 
Your light shall guide him, till he rise to do 
Deeds worthy of our love, and life, and you ! 



65 



Queen 

I know not what dark sentence I await, 
But I do love you. We will challenge fate. 

King 

Brave, brave, and dearer than all dreams. 

You are my dawn, and loose my frozen streams 

Of night-bound hope. Ambition has no charms 

To fool me from this haven of your arms. 

No brazen glory trumps a call more clear 

Than your soft voice that bids me laugh at fear. 

Never would I for glory flatter death. 

On whose cold honours men waste hollow breath. 

But you have seen how I am herded in 

By envious neighbours, hoping each to win 

My sword to serve their schemes, and you well 

know 
For cither's cause I will not strike one blow. 
I think there scarce is any cause on earth 
That merits war's red ban on children's mirth. 
I have not seen one yet. Men, when they fight, 
Each yell their own unanswerable right. 
And call on God to avenge their children's blood. 
But each has evil wrought, and each some good. 
Who shall weigh up the balance? Who dares 

wreak 
Vengeance for truth? Not I. Let that man 

speak 

66 



Who Is omniscient. When men dispense 
Justice, always they punish innocence, 
And guilt too often spare. We have a right 
To spend our lives, but none to murder life, 
And none to prate of truth who practise strife; 
And he is dead of heart as he is bold 
Who dares a people lead to death for gold, 
Or power's increase, or any worldly gain 
Which must be bought with blood, and crime, 

and pain, 
And all the inevitable shames of war. 
Dogma and gold! These dead illusions are 
Death's banners always: men whose natural soul 
Rejects them both, yet sink In with the whole. 
Dreading the lonely track of an ideal 
Which none but God and they perceive is real. 
You know our neighbour's quarrel? Is it good? 
Worthy one drop of happy human blood? 
Ten miles of earth whose smallest virtue is 
She smiles above rich ore each swears is his ! 
Each to the hilt has proved his righteous claim. 
Embracing centuries of wars and shame. 
Indeed, if any right there be in it, 
I think the younger man is proved most fit 
To trade this wealth; the other lags behind 
The times; besides, his is a dull, dishonest mind, 
I like him not. But war for this? I swear 
It shall not be! I urged them: "Reason! 

Share ! 

67 



Take equal portions ! Brain with brain compete 
If you must live by conquest and defeat! " 
They scowled on that ! To-morrow I must speak, 
Beloved, my last word. What shall it be ? 

Queen 
Urge them once more. 

King 
Dear heart, they cannot see. 

Queen 



Yet hold by love. 



King 



That have I sworn to do. 
My oath takes pinions sanctified by you ! 
Yet listen: men opposed by mutual greed 
Will often join twin hates to serve one need 
When danger stronger than their puny spite 
Threatens them both. Suppose these two unite 
To murder me? Fools have a craven dread 
Of thoughts they cannot know, their minds being 

fed 
By that old spinster custom's barren breast, 
From which they suck cold passions, all oppressed 

68 



By her forbidding eye. They fear sweet day, 
And welcome secret gloom, nor dare display 
Their naked spirits to the clear caress 
Of love's creative sun, which burns to bless 
All beauty's living forms; and so they hide, 
Decking their small desires in shame and pride, 
Until, so cramped, each natural beauty shrinks 
To foul deformities whose illness stinks. 
These are fear's slaves; at his obscure command 
They crowd and crawl to lick his clammy hand, 
And with a frantic courage flock to guard 
His ghostly realm from love's invading sword. 
By these am I beset. They threaten me. 

Queen 

Yet even these were born divinely free I 

For twice ten thousand years their souls may die. 

But they shall bloom in love's eternity. 

Let reason's slow persuasion teach them love. 

King 

You bless my will ! Now shall no power move 
My mind from this endeavour ! But again 
Listen, for I must strike with deadlier pain : 
Last night, when I was wandering alone 
About the city streets, I heard a groan 
At my feet, and stooping down to find 
Its cause, I felt a dagger's point behind 

69 



My ear : it did but graze. I caught his hand 
Who struck me, then his throat, till he, un- 
manned — 
He was a hired craven — all confessed. 
The dagger aimed to strike my bending breast, 
But in the dark he missed. Sweet, he was set 
To kill me. They are sworn to kill me yet. 

Queen 

Now may I shut my eyes? But keep still near: 
I want to see the happy past. Most dear. 
Do you remember once — it was In June — 
We slept together under a young moon, 
When we were young? Without a dream of hate 
You smiled upon my heart, unheeding fate. 
There was a gentle breeze — I feel it now — 
Which robbed the lemon flower to bless your 

brow. 
And every time its breathing stirred your hair 
You smiled, and I, because your sleep was fair. 
Cried happy tears. How cool night's inward 

palm 
Upon our souls ! How large, how greatly calm 
Her starry judgment brooded on our joy, 
Whose passion burned too pure for shame's alloy. 
Then, suddenly, wide flashed your tranquil eyes I 
You cried my name ! I saw your spirit rise 
Through the inmost cells of life, articulate 
With meaning words had left till then innate 

70 



Between us, and I felt my answering soul 
With beating wings rush out to be made whole, 
Losing its poor identity in this 
Immortal birth of self-destroying bliss 1 
Do you remember, love? 

King 

O, very well ! 
And with our kiss such peace upon us fell 
As holds us still within its strong embrace, 
And I have sweet remembrance of your face, 
Luminous with the countless gathered beams 
Of suns, and moons, and those accomplished 

dreams 
Which light the unseen world where lovers live 
In perfect truth, which only love may give. 

Queen 

Then were we born of love : now must we do 
Love's labour faithfully if we are true 
Let us be love's most faithful. If we die 
We shall not be the last men crucify 
For hate of love, as we were not the first. 
For such revenge men have unsated thirst. 

King 

Your dream was truer, dearest: say not we! 
Ah, never fail our love ! Accomplish me ! 

71 



Queen 

Must I live on without your love? You ask 
More than my strength can bear in that long task. 

King 

Our strength must grow to equip our firm desire ! 
Look up, my soul! Who lit in me this fire? 
Who, when my heart squandered youth's April 

hours 
In sensuous dreams, struck all my buds to flowers? 
Who, like a cloud melting in arrowy rain 
Its heavenly form to live on earth again, 
Nourished with her rich life my barren roots? 
What sun has ripened all my flowers to fruits? 
Who, like a fiery angel born of peace. 
Bid war of sense and spirit in me cease, 
And with a single gesture did combine 
These foes, who, reconciled, make man divine? 
Who plumed my lagging feet? Who stripped 

my eyes 
With burning kisses, of those scalely lies 
Which blind the loveless? Who did arm my 

soul 
To kill sloth's worm in me? Who made me 

whole? 
You ! you did this ! You, with your keen, sweet 

breath, 
Charged with fierce life my world, denying death I 

72 



You have denied him! Dare he enter now? 
You crowned me living! Shall death rob my 

brow? 
Can we be separate whom love made one? 
No ! For our life is gathered in that sun 
Whose universal beams new life will shed 
Long aeons after worlds and we are dead! 
Ah, dread you this division of our flesh? 
Sweet, so do I. O, heavenly mesh 
Of light! O, temple fools and apes defame, 
That holds, not hides, the soul's quick-leaping 

flame ! 
Not a faint wrinkle carven on your face 
But speaks like music of some mental grace 
Poets can never sing. I do adore 
These shadows near your temples, and that store 
Of light in each warm iris, like clear water. 
Bedded with peace, and flecked with airy laughter ! 
O, and your lips make such a tender curve 
As evening on a hill we know: each nerve 
Quick with a growing truth expressive is. 
And must I lose this joy, and this, and this, 
On which my insatiate eyes so sweetly browse? 
Needs must we face the ends of this? Who 

knows 
That ever again, though Individually 
We still live on, these souls of you and me 
Shall be expressed in shapes our transformed eyes 
Beyond the forgotten grave may recognise? 

73 



We have no certainty. But we have faith! 
O, say it! Sing it! Dart your kindling breath 
Into my trembHng courage ! We believe 
We cannot part whom love did once conceive 
Together! Alone my strength is vain. O, 

speak! 
Else am I for my purpose grown too weak. 

Queen 
I do believe. 

King 

We know not how we live, 
Being dead, but only that our life must give 
Ever new life, and, in all forms, new life ! 
O well-spring of delight, O friend, love, wife, 
We have a child who shall be born to sorrow 
And lord of all the ruin of to-morrow I 
Your life is his. For him you needs must stay 
A little while to point him love's true way. 

Queen 

Leave me your testament of Truth, lest I, 
Whose strongest hope must be thenceforth to die, 
Forget. But first lift me upon your heart; 
My soul hath eyes too keen. Soon must we part. 

King 

O, my life rocks In anguish ! O, my sweet, 
Be granite ! Suffer not my soul's defeat. 

74 



Queen 

Speak, speak, beloved: dawn will soon be here, 
Cradling thoughts whose acts shall make joy's 
bier. 

King 

O, would that love had power such as men 
Attribute to their lesser gods, for then 
He should remove us to some happier sphere 
Where dreams grow true, unpruned by death and 

fear. 
There should we dwell, simple, and gay, and free, 
Till gradual change unfold eternity. 
Yet have we in our minds a world as fair, 
More real, than this regret: we breathe an air 
Which evil dares not penetrate. This is 
Our babe's inheritance from our last kiss. 
Tell him to make that world reality 
For all who live and love : teach him to see 
Perfection through the imperfect forms which veil 
Infinite Truth, whose cause he must not fail 
Though time's most huge illusions gather force 
Against his single faith, nor swerve his course 
To encounter shadows. Let him still be bold. 
And firm, and gentle. Let his love enfold 
All who have seen the light, and seeing, strive; 
For smallest truths, well served, keep Truth alive. 
Let him not mould the eternal to a creed 
Whose limits may deny one human need: 

75 



Not one whose heart moves truly with his lip 

Must be shut out from love's free fellowship. 

O, teach him, love, such gentleness of strength, 

Activity of peace, that he at length 

Gather all men within love's boundless realm 

Whose service Is true freedom. This hard helm 

His tender hands shall ache to hold : this tide 

His soul embarks on, glowers : but he must ride 

All storms, nor follow any other chart 

Than that resolve love writes on his pure heart. 

O, little child who shall be born to us, 

I charge thee by these kisses, thus, and thus. 

Fall not thy heritage ! O give no way 

To those foul legions of fear and hate 

Which for the single-hearted He In wait. 

By this true love which thee begot, be true ! 

Queen 

You speak farewells! O, what must women do 
Whose hearts would break, but may not? 

King 

You would not have 
My body safe, my mind a beggared slave? 
When you look so I have a mind to give 
My spirit compromise, truth fail, and live. 
How can I leave you? O, my love, my love, 
Why do the ways of God so darkly move? 

76 



May none who worship truth have also peace 
While on our murdered joys life makes increase? 
Ah, vain importuning. Let us be still; 
Our anguish may not shalce life's hidden will. 

[He goes to the window. 
Night's starry judgment looks as calm as when 
We slept in joy, nor feared the hate of men; 
But one by one her eyes are going out, 
And eastward dawn smiles wanly, as in doubt 
Of her next steps : sad owls flit homeward crying, 
And In the willows a cold wind is sighing. 
Over the solemn pines my eyes still strain 
To keep night's last star living, but in vain; 
Only her memory burns : yet who shall find 
Which Is most true — her beauty in the mind 
Or that more actual light which fades and dies? 
I think love gives our souls immortal eyes 
Outliving space and time. O, now young morn 
More certain grows, and like a hope new born 
Bends shameless gaze and rosy brows to meet 
Earth's kindling worship that adores his feet 
In all those liquid gems of fiery dew 
Lighting the emerald lawn and dreaming yew. 
Our Mother Is grown young with blossoming 

May; 
Her bosom breathes faint scents, her eyes are 

gay. 

She trembles with divine expectancy 
Of heavenly dreams made keen reality. 

77 



She trembles — hopes — adores ! O, bright de- 
sire, 
My soul Is lost In thine Infectious fire ! 
O, aged heart, whose sap is ageless youth, 
When shall thy stubborn children learn thy truth, 
And, loving thee, grow thy more worthy guests? 
What men to-day shall rise from their long rests 
With thoughts to mould their acts in harmony 
With this royal beauty spread for them by thee? 
I have a hope that soon a day shall come 
When men shall know thy hills and fields their 

home. 
And learn such reverence to keep it fair 
That love may build his shrine for ever there! 
When that day dawns, fear, hate, and war shall 

cease, 
And men's sole rivalry shall be for peace. 
Brothers ! Awake ! The dawn is surely here. 

[He falls back suddenly, struck by a dart. 
O, I am killed 1 My heart — O, hate — death, 

— fear — 
O, climbing sun I O love — remember love I 

Finis 



78 



O Love, upon how few thy hght 
Descends ! O Love, how few have sight 
Beyond the hour! How many bear 
Thy torch? O, what men wear 
Thy sign, the large clear look 
Of sympathy? Who writes thy book? 
Who sings thy word? O Love, come down 
Among us now I Now set thy crown 
On brows to lead us, and Inspire 
Our fainting faith with thy keen fire ! 
Let not thy children fall ! O, give 
Them life, that their resolve may live 
To serve thy truth, though all else die ! 
Love, hear our cry! 



79 



So many die : I watch them go, 
And nothing of their going know. 
Beyond my touch, beyond my sight, 
Into old darkness a new light 
They pass, nor leave a track behind 
For me to follow. No man's mind, 
Though It be keen as flame, may cleave 
The blank between us; nought they leave 
Of life or earth . . . but that quick part 
Of them still springing In my heart! 
Each living thought of them I had, 
Tender, or strong, or gay, or sad. 
Each time I marked a look, a tone, 
A lighted brow, a gesture done 
Delightfully, a sudden poise, 
A sweet defect, a lilt of voice. 
All my soul's raptured eye may see, 
Springs seed of their dear life in me. 
And, O, divinely more than this. 
Rare words of love, rare touch, or kiss. 
Or tears between us ! These may give 
Immortal life of theirs to live! 
Life I must live for them each hour. 
Life without end, by love's sweet power. 

80 



Therefore I live attentively: 

Perhaps this radiant earth I see, 

This life in husk, life-budding shoot. 

Green leaf unfurled from age-old root, 

June fields in dewy light new born. 

Noon's burnished glow on mellow corn, 

Soft evening's tranquil touch on curves 

Against a sky whose banner swerves 

It's trailing gold from west to east; 

This, that my soul draws down for feast 

Lest in a world of noise it die . . . 

This earth I love lives but as I 

Have garnered all its life, and when 

I take my leave of earth and men 

Death shall be all I have not seen. 

And heard, and lived, and loved, and been! 

Life shall be all I made my own 

By worship ! All the beauty known 

By loving it! By love! I see 

The heart of immortality! 

No cleavage here ! No clanging gate 

Between our worlds ! By love create 

Undying life; by living, love! 

So, fiery wheels, expanding, move 

Laws universal ! So, no end, 

And no beginning . . . 

Let me spend 
My days In worship. Let me go 

8i 



Gathering sweetness. Let me know 
The hidden source of things : fling wide 
My soul through sense to beauty, ride 
All venturing winds on this high quest, 
Until this little span of breast 
Holds world on world ... so may I prove 
The death of death, the life of love ! 



82 



ASLEEP 

Sleep, my darling, let me stay; 

Do not move : 
Open-eyed I take my rest, 

Cradled In love. 
In work, in play. 
You have escaped my eyes all day; 

Lie now on my breast. 

Be serene and clear to me, 

Laughing brow I 
Kissed Into sleep, O kindling lips, 

Smile on me now! 
Hush! Now I see 
Your spirit's form rise nakedly! 

A sun without eclipse ! 



83 



She shines in flesh and blood most clear, 

Our mother, who so much delights 

To mould In holy beauty things 

Men's passion, cramped and tortured, blights 

Passion which, free, might give them wings, 

A chariot, not a bier! 

But O, the body speaking soul. 
Not killing it ! The living sheath 
Revealing what were else obscure, 
Inspired aflame by love beneath! 
So have we Nature singing pure, 
So read her vision whole ! 



84 



Youth lies not In a span of years, 
Nor age in the body's decay. 
Grief dries not with the fount of tears, 
Nor joy with the end of play. 

Youth climbs on with his face to the sun, 
Age circles round and back; 
Youth's road is daily new begun. 
Age crawls a beaten track. 

Youth's hands are stretched to bless, to smite, 
■He flings his heart's doors wide; 
Age locks his hoard from all men's sight. 
And rots his soul inside. 

I know a man, he is crowned with joy, 
And scarred with years and pain; 
The same crown kings a shining boy 
Who bears no conqueror's stain! 

One says, " I serve the truth I know! " 
One battles to be wise: 
One light streams from them as they go, 
One smile sleeps In their eyes. 

85 



My blackbird, still you come 

And still you sing; 
No pain can make you dumb, 

No sorrow, no regret. 
Death only kills the joy whence spring 
Your songs. You fail not, nor forget. 

No passions stir your voice 

High or low; 
Simply you do rejoice 

For love, love, love I 
Sweet love that does not come and go, 
But is, beneath all shows that move. 

Sweet, you will sing love's praise 

Until you die. 
Worshipping all your days. 

No shame, no fear, no doubt 
Can make your fount of song run dry, 
Like ours, nor shut your heaven out. 



86 



DISCHARGED — TOTALLY DISABLED 

So death was cheated of you ! Here you lie 
In your own place beside me : you did not die ! 
I must repeat it, learn this truth by heart: 
You did not die ! You did not die ! No part 
Of you is dead! O, sleep, my darling, sleep; 
You are at home, you must not hear me weep. 
When I have learned my lesson I shall not cry — 
You did not die ! You did not, did not die ! 
I will not gull myself. I'll hold the light 
Closer, that I may see each ugly trace 
Death made in missing you: he clawed your face 
Most hideously of all, because he knew 
I, his foe, loved its beauty; blew 
Blood in your eyes, seared the lids black and bare, 
Branded your brows — my blessing rested 

there — 
Then as a treacherous coward, beaten, afraid, 
Lunges to mark his conqueror, he laid 
His twisted seal upon your lips and fled. 
Harried by love and me ! 

O piteous head! 

87 



O bloodshot, staring eyes! O branded brow, 
O tortured lips, how should I know you now? 
No feature Is the same, no look, no sign 
Of what I knew is left to prove you mine. 
You cannot smile! That was death's ugliest 

blow I 
You cannot smile ! The lips I used to know 
Smiled in their sleep for me; they laughed all day, 
For every changing thought a different way 
Of smiling for my joy, but they smiled best 
In sleep, against my heart, kissed into rest. 
And now you cannot smile, all hacked awry, 

warm, gay lips — and yet you did not die ! 

Beaten, death ! You are beaten ! Though I see 
This mask of him you have returned to me, 
Though every wound gapes by this flickering light, 

1 have another lamp ! Another sight ! 
His spirit lives, and all his beauty lives ! 
You cannot pilfer in my soul ! Love gives 
His gifts immortally! Not time's decay, 
Nor violence, nor thou can take away 
Beauty made mine by love ! Even now I find 
His living beauty flaming in my mind. 
Burning out all your scars, old foe, and here. 
Here on the pillow smiles serenely clear 

His own familiar face! The mask's a lie! 
Nothing of him is dead! He cannot die! 



S8 



O HAPPY wood wherein I lie, 

Were your bright flowers afraid to die? 

On withered leaves I rest my head 
And think of all the summers dead. 
Each foxglove shakes a wizened throat, 
Winged seeds fly up for winds to float; 
Primrose and pale anemone 
Flaunt winter leaves to smile on me; 
Earth's million springs beneath my feet 
Take voices thunderous to speak; 
And sap which for a hundred years 
Has decked the beech in smiles and tears, 
Given the hoary oak a grace 
Gentle, almost, as my love's face. 
Made the swaying poplars dance 
Like laughter in an infant's glance. 
Loosed the tender larches' hair 
Above the face of bluebells fair; 
This fiery sap of summer's crown 
Draws my sluggish spirit down, 
Down and down where summer sleeps, 
Down to darkest hidden deeps, 

89 



Where unnumbered tangled roots 
Garner life for unborn shoots; 
Down and down where every clod 
Sings like any bard of God, 
Deep as sorrow, dark as death. 
Where old earth takes laboured breath, 
Breath of life for every blade 
Springing green in field and glade, 
Anguished breath of holy pain, 
To laugh among the windy grain — 
Who shall know what travailing 
Wakes the new born eyes of spring? 

Patient Mother, I have come 
With some withered flowers, home: 
Some were flowers, some were weeds, 
Life has given to both their seeds; 
Lying in thy heart, I pray 
Winds may bear the weeds away 
Where their roots shall sprawl in vain - 
But, O my flowers, spring again I 



90 



I LIFT my worship to the stars 
Which crown the quiet face of night, 
Thinking on them who lust in wars 
And turn their hearts from love's delight. 

I think on them who cannot read, 
Truth God has taken pains to write 
In every star, in every seed. 
In every hour of love's delight. 

friend, too long estranged from me, 
Shall we with them our strength unite 
Who never had humility 

To take the kiss of love's delight? 

Because I know no other way 
To heal a heart of ancient blight, 

1 cast mine from me, and I pray 
A heart made new in love's delight. 

If you would cast your heart with mine, 
Haply with clearer, gentler sight. 
Our new-born hearts would then incline 
To meet again in love's delight. 

91 



BEFORE BATTLE 

O God, sweet morning brings the hour 
When I must rise to play my part — 
Dawn which unfolded like a flower 
When she I love slept near my heart — 
My part In that dark shrouded whole 
Which claims enslavement of my soul. 

God, I know not what I do, 
Yet must I do the thing I dread. 
Though I may scarce believe that true 
Which brands on my unwilling head 
Another's blood, another's groan, 
For cause no more than mine his own. 

When I look up on this fair face 
Of night, whose pure, untroubled eyes 
Look down through such unmeasured space 
That to their view my darling lies 
Within these arms spread wide on sod — 

1 cannot think on hate, O God. 



92 



Then must I pray for hate to spur 
My nerveless hand to smite, and kill, 
And put out all my thought of her 
Whose powers of love my spirit fill 
With joy, and wonder, and delight? 
Love will not lift my hand to smite ! 

That shining seed has roots too strong 
Which her dear kiss sowed in my heart; 
I cannot hate because her song 
Calls me to play another part. 
O God, what prayer shall he pray 
Who falsely in his part must play? 

O that Thy stars had power to move 
From their bright orbits fixed on high 
To write in burning signs above 
Thy meaning unmistakably. 
O God, whose ways are hid from me. 
Grant me to see I To see ! To see I 



93 



TO HER CRITICS WHO DO NOT 
KNOW HER 

She is my friend. Until you have suffered pain, 
Self-loathing, doubt, despair, and looked in vain 
For comfort in yourself, in books, in God; 
Sought in the dreary maze some path to plod 
To freedom, lost it, hurled all faith aside, 
Abandoned will to drift with any tide ; 
Then, tired, battered, humbled, found her eyes 
Beaconing hell, passionate, gay, and wise; 
Felt the firm pull of her small, faithful hand 
Upon your courage, heard her command you stand 
To your own soul's stature, felt her spirit's touch 
Like spring on death- — you have not known her 

much ! 
Therefore be still, and learn humility 
Not to deny all things you cannot see I 



94 



You called me " Youth " because my years are 

young ! 
You whose bright years have garnered up rich 

truth 
Of joy and pain, until, like jewels strung 
On your ageless brow, they dart infectious youth 
On all who love you ! Youth's own golden 

tongue. 
Whose laughter kills dull error without ruth, 
Runs like God's joyous hound to bay among 
These sheep, the old, the withered, tame, uncouth 
Flock of custom, bids me now proclaim, 
O heart as young as love, as old as time, 
O you, great Shakespeare's dear interpreter. 
While love and Shakespeare still have force to stir 
Men's hearts, the years shall but enshrine your 

name . . . 
When I, poor " Youth," lie banished with this 

rhyme ! 

For Ellen Terry, 



95 



Earth smiles In her sleep 

For the coming of her bridegroom, 

For the touch of his lips on her eyes, 

For his strength to call to her beauty. 

Earth holds out her hands 

In the night for her beloved. 

Life stirs in her womb 

With the promise of fulfilment. 

They come — a whisper of flowers, 

A quickening wind in the grasses, 

A glint of little eyes, 

A pulse that beats in the shadows. 

O, no more hate! 

No more room for hate! 
Only love! 
Spring comes with the morning. 
She lays her hands upon me 
To make me whole, 
Puts her lips on mine. 
Sucks the poison from me. 
Leaves me whole ! 
Looks upon me, laughing, 
Pierces my heart with gladness. 

96 



No more sin is in me! 
Spring iias made me whole 1 

O, no more hate! 

No more room for hate! 
Only love! 
Lift up your hands to her, 
As I do, my beloved! 
She with her young breasts 
Shall nourish you from sickness I 
She makes light in the veins 
Flow like laughter! Laughter! 
Lift up your lips to her ! 
She gives you her gay blessing! 
She puts her sign upon you, 
The holy kiss of love ! 
Dear, set up no dull barriers 
Of anger, of hatred: 
Turn not your face to the wall. 
Locking yourself in darkness. 
Because of me and my folly ! 
Turn me not away ! 
Spring has taken me to her, 
I am hid in her garments, 
Waiting the smile of your eyes. 
I have bitterly fallen, 
And wept in the cold dust; 
But spring has come upon me, 
She lifts me in her bosom. 
Lo, now she brings me to you, 

97 



To He where I belong, 
In mine own resting-place, 
My home, your heart. 

O, no more hate! 

No hate! 

Only love! 
Turn me not away, 
O you who touched my spirit 
And kindled me to flowering; 
For here shall I lie, weeping. 
Until I be let in 
Into the light. 

O, no more hate! 

No hate! 

Only love! 



98 



Where you are have I been: 

My steps you tread 

In worlds where all things seen 

Move, yet are dead; 

Where no new hope springs green, 

And all joy Is fled. 

No depths of this deep hell 
Have I not known; 
No lies hag Fear can tell 
Haunt you alone ; 
Many times, lost, I fell 
Where you make moan. 

Behold these fading scars, 

Healed in love's dew, 

Marks of Inglorious wars — 

Reckon them true ! 

Hot from shame's branding bars, 

Once they were new. 

Blindfold I know this track, 
Love, where you roam ; 

99 



Here, where night falls most black, 

See, I am come! 

Love, let us turn us back, 

Let us go home. 



100 



MAGGIE WINWOOD 

I HEARD it all: I'm old, you see, 

And they don't pay much heed to me. 

I've lived my three score years and ten, 

And more besides; women and men 

Grown up along of me lie still 

In churchyard up on Biggin's Hill. 

Old friends they are : I never had 

No quarrels since I was a lad. 

And Ernie Winwood — he's been dead 

Two years come Easter — looked to wed 

The lass I'd set my heart on; well, 

I won, and we was cold as hell 

Till my lass died — we'd only been 

A year together — then his spleen 

Died in her coffin. Sometimes death 

Does things like that: his cruel breath 

Turns kind, and roots up weeds. It seems so long 

Since my lass died. There was a song 

She used to sing, and all this time 

I've tried to think of that last rhyme. 

But it won't come : often of nights 

It keeps me waking, calling sights 

lOI 



Of ouc young times. Ah, no one knows 
The sweetness of the way it goes 
Excepting me, and I've forgot 
The end. Well, Ernie rocked the cot 
She left her life in: a fine lass 
It was — O Lord, how time do pass I 
The hair's grey on her pretty head, 
And her girl's old enough to wed. 
That's what I'm telling of: you see, 
I'm old, and they don't notice me. 
I like to sit here in my nook; 
Old eyes see plain because they look 
Past all the shapes they can't make out 
Into the things they're most about; 
Young Maggie's shape's quite dim, but I 
See like a flame when she goes by. 
I don't hear all the words she says, 
But when she laughs there's a touch plays 
On strings inside me : when she cries 
A bit of me goes cold and dies. 
She cried last night: that's where I'm coming 
If I could keep my mind from roaming. 
Ernie, you see, he took a wife 
Who kept him kindly all his life, 
And bore him seven sons. Their Harry 
And my girl Kate come home to marry: 
Now Maggie's twenty. We still light 
Her birthday candles. Every one 
Tells of lovely things she've done I 

102 



Each time another candle's burned 
It shines for some sweet thing she've learned. 
We'll light another one this year 
And let it flame for every tear, 
And let It blaze in hell and heaven 
To pray men's sins be all forgiven; 
And ask God's justice to be kind 
As love In little Maggie's mind. 
Would to God she'd never loved 
A chap like Jim that's tramped and roved, 
And turned his hand to anything; 
Not shamed to hold his cap and sing 
For pennies in the gutter, too ; 
A chap like that's not fashioned true. 
All right to kiss when youngsters play, 
But Maggie gave her soul away. 
She couldn't make a game of love. 
Her heart's too clear. She's like a dove, 
Though with an eagle's wings she flies; 
My heart drops blood when Maggie cries. 
She gave her soul to waster Jim; 
A lot of good It did for him ! 
For If you drop good seed In sand 
You'll never reap, you understand; 
And if you give your love away 
To him whose heart's no more than clay 
You'll never kindle clay to fire. 
And all your love will drag In mire. 
But if you give your love aright 

103 



You'll live your days in sweet delight, 
And angels up In heaven sing 
For joy and holiness you bring, 
And things turned foul when others do 
Them foully shall be good In you. 
All this I know from things I see 
When people take no heed of me. 
They wheel me In to hug the fire, 
Because my veins, like rusty wire. 
Have no more heat of their own making. 
And my old palsied bones and quaking 
Nerves crave fire when there's no sun: 
That's how I know what Maggie done. 
It happened this way. They came In 
Same as usual: the same din 
I've heard for five-and-seventy years 
Almost, but now I'm old my ears 
Hear only what they want to; once 
I cursed that wind-bag, Tony Bruce, 
For clucking so, but now their hum 
Can't spoil the flavour of my rum! 
Dick Masters preaches sin In chapel; 
I've wopped him for a stolen apple ! 
Charlie Pursy, stout and trim. 
Forgets the times I've dandled him I 
It's queer how little men do grow; 
I see 'em underneath, you know. 
They seem like kids a-playing men 
For all the sense they've learned since then, 

104 



Only they've put on beards and pomp 
And quite forgot the way to romp. 
If they could romp they might learn sense, 
And keep a sprig of innocence; 
But as it is they're mostly sheep, 
Enough to make a grown soul weep. 
Well, they was telling the same yarns. 
How rats got into Charlie's barns. 
And how the fowls was laying bad. 
And Tony's pup had gone clean mad 
And bit him: that was where 1 heard 
Jim's name, and Maggie somehow stirred: 
I know she did, for I could feel 
Like as if steel had clashed on steel. 
I couldn't see her, but I know 
The way her eyes would leap and glow. 
I listened then. I heard him say 
How Jim was passing by that way. 
How he'd looked in and took the pup. 
And Tony left 'em both locked up 
For half an hour: when he went back 
The pup was lying, weak and slack. 
In Jimmy's arms, and he was spooning 
Milk in his jaws, and sort of crooning 
As if the beast had been a child. 
Then out raps Dick, all hot and wild: 
"The man's a gipsy! Mooning fool I 
He's soft as any girl from school ! " 
Up chirps Tony, bright and slick: 

105 



" That's more than some be, Mister Dick I " 
" The devil wears a smiling face," 
Says Dick, " but them as pray for grace 
Because their hearts were born in sin 
Don't give the devil grin for grin! 
No ! Them as grin are them as go 
On any roads the winds may blow, 
And some winds blow to hell, they say, 
With drink and poaching by the way." 
I sipped my rum. I didn't turn: 
I watched the fire flick up and burn 
Like blood blazed up in Maggie's heart. 
I felt her, like as if a part 
Of her was beating hot in me; 
I didn't need to turn and see. 
Then, like a high note sharply played, 
I heard her call out: " Ain't he paid; 
Haven't you seen he paid twice over? 
And which of you that lives in clover 
Hasn't deserved the same? But you 
Look you're not caught at things you do ! 
Jim's been in gaol for getting caught. 
That's enough paid, I should have thought! 
Three months in gaol for just one hare! 
And Mister Masters got him there! " 
*' He went to gaol for something more," 
Dick snarled. " Yes! What he did it for! 
Let's tell 'em why he went to gaol! " 

io6 



My Maggie cried; " they'll like that tale ! " 

Then Harry muttered : " Mag, let be." 

She laughed a kind of scornful glee. 

" ril tell 'em, then! I'll tell 'em plain! " 

She said. " A woman took with pain 

Of birth, he did It for. She lay 

In Mister Masters's yard all day, 

And not a bite of food they brought her — 

No, not a cup of plain cold water. 

In cattle's straw they let her He, 

That poor soul that was fit to die. 

And that's where her dead babe was born! " 

The air was angry with her scorn, 

But no one spoke, and she went on: 

" Well, now I'll tell you what Jim done. 

He carried her to Haley's Wood, 

To where a broken wood-shed stood; 

He stole some dry straw for her bed, 

Then took her baby that was dead 

And burled It with loving care 

Under the wind flowers growing there. 

Well, then you know how he was caught — 

Cooking a hare he hadn't bought — 

By Mister Masters." 

" That's enough ! 
How can you let her talk such stuff? 
A chit like her to speak so bold! 
It isn't decent ! I don't hold 

107 



With bits of girls like her in here: 
Their minds take on a smell of beer, 
I'm thinking." 

" Now then; now then, Dick! 
Steady. That talk's a bit too thick! " 
Said Harry, quiet like, but grim. 
Which is a way he's got with him. 
" Well, keep her quiet, then." 

*'Now, Mag." 
" She's got a fiery tongue to wag, 
That girl of yours ! she talks too hot." 
*' And so did Jim ! You ain't forgot 
The Scripture he talked back at you I 
He let you have it hot and true I 
He turned the tables on you then. 
You that throw texts like stones at men." 
Then Dick got up. " What call had he 
To quote the word o' God to me? 
That gipsy fool ! That heathen clod ! 
That swine that don't believe in God! " 
" Not in your God ! Your God's like you, 
Spying the sorrowful things men do ! 
He makes a chap a sneaking slave. 
He dogs his steps from birth to grave, 
He keeps him quiet with bribe and threat. 
And takes good care he don't forget 
His sins, and makes him pay full price 
For all Christ Jesus' sacrifice! 
But that's all lies. Your God's not true 1 

1 08 



God's not a gamekeeper, like you ! " 
''That's blasphemy!" 

" Come, Maggie dear." 
" I won't have that girl kept In here I 
Blasphemous chit! Send her to bed! " 
" Come, Masters : come, man ! Keep your head." 
" I'll not stay here while she's about! " 
" Well, Masters, I'll not send her out," 
Said Harry, almost softly; " she 
Shall stay where she've a mind to be." 
" Then I've a mind to seek a place 
Where I shan't see her brazen face! " 
*' So be it, Dick." 

" I'll not forgive 
You, Harry, long as I may live ! " 
" Nobody asked you, Dick. You can 
Get out; and so may any man 
As don't like Maggie. So good-night." 
" Well, she finds grace with gipsy Jim! 
I don't compete wi' likes of him! " 
" Say what you mean." 

" I'll say no more." 
" Say what you mean. Kate, shut that door. 
Now then, Dick Masters. Out with It." 
" Ask her yourself, man: ask your chit 
What call a decent girl has got 
Defending gipsy Jim so hot! " 
Then I heard Maggie draw her breath 
Sharp In her teeth, and I felt death 

109 



On my old heart. " My pretty one, 
See what your lovely pride has done I " 
I thought; and my old rusty eyes 
Wept aching tears for that man's lies. 
But she was quiet when she spoke, 
Though her soft voice fell like a stroke 
On me. " Why, every call ! " she said. 
" Dad, tell them Jim and me's to wed.'* 
He paused, then said at last: ^' That's so." 
" Congratulations! Well, I'll go," 
Said Dick; " that's half a crown. 
I like to pay my money down." 
" You'll want some change," said Harry, plain 
And cold: '' you'll not be here again." 
I know the others slunk out after 
Without their usual noise and laughter. 
I didn't hear them say good-night, 
I hadn't neither ears nor sight 
For them; the world went cold and black. 
As if I lay on some slow rack 
In lonely darkness. Gradually 
My darling's voice came back to me, 
Thin, dull, and strange; she said: 
" You're vexed that Jim and me's to wed. 
Oh, do you think I cannot see 
That you and father's shamed for me? " 
*' No, no; Jim's not so bad," said Kate. 
'' Ah, yes, you're like the rest; you hate 
Things you don't rightly understand, 

no 



Like my poor Jim. You're cruel, too, 
When you're afraid." 

" We'd hopes for you. 
That's all," said Kate. *' A girl must choose 
Her own life; only when we lose 
Children, like old folk must, I know, 
It's hard. Us mothers watch 'em grow 
From little things, not good, nor bad, 
But helpless; then come lass and lad 
With dreams of venturing and love. 
Them as we thought could only move 
By help of us have no more needs 
We'll satisfy: they're hot for deeds 
Our eyes can't see the end of, things 
Our ears are deaf to calls and sings 
For them so loud they cannot hear 
Wisdom our age can see so clear. 
That's how it's come with you and Jim. 
Somehow I hadn't thought of him 
When I was fancying the lad 
Who'd take our girl from me and Dad. 
But If you love him, that's enough. 
Some roads lie smooth, and some lie rough; 
It's no use barring 'em. You'll find 
The road that's natural to your mind. 
And that's the road you'll travel by. 
However many paths you try." 
Kate wasn't often one to say 
Things other folk will give away 

III 



Cheaper than windfalls: things, I mean, 
That touches tears. She's always been 
Locked up and steady, like her Harry; 
And when they say that folk should marry 
Their opposltes I say they're wrong. 
For If you marry weak to strong, 
Under strength's heel the weak soul lies, 
Or curbs and drains strength till he dies. 
But If you marry mate to mate 
You kindle powers that laugh at fate, 
And smaller things that put love out — 
That's what poor Kate was grieved about. 
She knew our Maggie to the core. 
She'd seen the light her forehead bore; 
She knew how soft her strength could burn 
In pity, how some women yearn 
To feed the weak on their hearts' blood. 
Until the weak do make their rood. 
She knew all that, and so she grieved; 
But she knew more, for she believed 
No power on earth could drag her down 
Whose head was shaped to wear a crown. 
Then Jim came in : his step was dull, 
Like one who'd got a load to pull. 
He'd been with Harry's ailing mare 
All day: I'll say that; he would care 
For beasts as If they'd been his kin; 
Ill-treating beasts was all the sin 
He knew. He weren't no poacher — how 

112 



He killed that hare quite beats me now, 

Unless that woman seemed to be 

A dumb beast In her misery, 

And her long pain deserved the price 

Of one hare's painless sacrifice. 

Somehow I knew the mare was dead 

Before he spoke: he groaned and said: 

" You never saw a horse die. When 

You do you'll know It's worse than men, 

They suffer so. I did my best." 

" I know you did," said Maggie; " rest 

If you can now, Jim, my dear." 

Kate said: " Now don't you settle here; 

The kitchen's cosier." 

" Let him be, 
Mother; he'll be all right with me," 
Said Maggie. *' Hush, Jim, you keep still. 
Mother, do go; I'm feared he's ill. 
Leave him to me. Ah, Jim, don't cry." 
" Horses are patient when they die! 
You didn't see, you'll never know 
The way she looked at me ; as though 
I'd done It. Oh, but It's sweet to rest 
Like this, all tired, against your breast. 
So big and warm you are, and strong. 
I'd like to die now. Life's too long, 
And men grow old. I often pray 
To die before then." 



113 



*' Jim, don't say 
Such things: it's wicked! " 

"WeU, Ido: 
Or turn a dog, for dogs are true, 
And men are not." 

" Ah, Jim, now don't." 
" It's truth. Well, kiss me; then I won't." 
*'0h, Jim!" 

" Oh, Maggie, kiss again." 
** Jim — Jim — you make it seem like pain 1 " 
" I'm glad. That's love." 

"Is it? Hush, Jim, 
There's grandpa." 

" Who's afraid of him? 
He's sleeping now, like old men should." 
"No — Jim." 

" All right. As if I would 
If you're not willing." 

" You're not well: 
You must be quiet now." 

" To hell 
With that! I say I'm well enough; 
I hate such namby-pamby stuff. 
I know you cannot always kiss, 
And if you can't, there's naught amiss. 
But, Maggie, I'm going away from here." 
" Don't talk so silly, my own dear; 
You understand me better: there. 
Kiss me : you're tired with nursing mare." 

114 



'' No. Tisn't that; but I must go." 
*' Where are you going? " 

'' I dunno." 
"But you'll be back?" 

" I don't know when." 
" Am I a-coming with you, then? " 
" You couldn't. Not tramp the roads, you can't." 
" Tramping? Oh, Jim — oh, no — you shan't." 
" I must." 

" Jim. Tell me. What's all this? 
Don't tease my heart out for that kiss ! 
Ah, Jim, don't turn your face away ! 
Laugh at me — say it's only play." 
" It's not." 

" But, Jim — we're to be wed.'* 
" I can't." 

" Jim — what was that you said? " 
1 can t. 

" Then all the rest's a lie? 
You said you loved me." 

''Ah, that's why I 
Maggie — I love you — I do — I do ! 
I dare not wed you. I'm not true 
To anything but beauty — no — 
I'll never do it ! I must go 1 
I couldn't bear to see you turn 
Old; see all your beauty burn 
To ashes, like your mother's; hear 
Your voice turn rusty in my ear, 

115 



You that's been so sweet to me I 

I shall remember you — and see 

Where your stays end; in your cheeks 

Little red veins where warm blood speaks 

Now to my kisses ! Kisses cold 

On our pinched lips when we are old! 

How could I bear it? I'll not change 

So quickly: men don't: I shall range 

New fields for beauty while I live, 

Where you can't follow. Women give 

Their beauty up to many things; 

Work and child-bearing dries the springs 

Of beauty, and when beauty's gone 

How could I leave you then alone 

And withered up, yet how could I 

Stay with the ghost of what's gone by? " 

" Ah ! Stop that talk ! Ah, stop, Jim dear I 

It's words ! All words I I will not hear ! " 

" You know it's not. You understand, 

You that have loved me. Give your hand. 

You know I couldn't ever bear 

To touch you and not feel magic there. 

Better to go before we're bound." 

*' It's too late now. You should have found 

All this before." 

" Why — what d'you mean? " 
" We're bound now, if we've never been. 
I told them all to-night, and Dad 
Told 'em, too. Masters drove me mad, 

Ii6 



Blackening you, Jim; I forgot 
Everything. I spoke up too hot, 
Defending you before them all. 
He jibed me for it; asked what call 
I had to speak so free: I said 
That you and me was to be wed. 
I couldn't help it. I was shamed. 
If you'd been there you'd not have blamed 
Me for it. Oh, my sweetheart, say 
You didn't mean you're going away I 
I love you, Jim! I love you so! 
Look at me, dear — you cannot go. 
You know you'll never find another 
Who'll be your love, your child, your mother, 
As I have been — and I'll be more ! 
I can be all you want ! There's store 
Of love in me you've yet to take ! 
Ah, Jim, a man like you can make 
A queen of me, or else a slave. 
Each Is your own, my dear; I gave 
Myself to you, not just a part, 
When you came calling at my heart. 
You don't know all of me, my sweet. 
Jim, look at me. I'll kiss your feet, 
I'll press your feet against my breast 
Until It hurts! Jim, take my best! 
Ah, Jim, I've got so much to give ! 
I pray a thousand years to live, 
And every hour of them should prove 

117 



All that I mean when I say * love.' " 
The tears splashed hot on my cold hand 
Because he couldn't understand. 
That spineless fool could see her there 
Stripping her lovely spirit bare; 
Let her kneel down, so proud, and kiss 
His brutish feet; hear her, and miss 
Her beauty that can never die. 
Swine make the muck where they must lie. 
Small grace to him he couldn't speak 
For shame. O God, how she was meek I 
And then she must have seen his eyes 
And known herself at last too wise 
With wisdom clear and pitiless. 
But her first words were gentleness. 
" I never knew you didn't mean 
To wed me, Jim, or I'd have been 
More careful. You've been cruel to me, 
Although you didn't mean to be. 
I know you didn't mean no harm, 
Your heart's too pitiful and warm, 
But gentle souls can be unkind 
When they're not brave to speak their mind. 
I wish you'd had the heart to say 
You always meant to go away." 
Jim groaned. " Oh, hell, I didn't know." 
" Ah, you don't see the way you go. 
You're not the sort to think things out: 
You feel, and then you've no more doubt 

ii8 



Until the thing you feel is dead, 
And then it weighs on you like lead." 
*' That's true," Jim muttered. 

"Yes, it's true! 
But tell me what I've got to do ! " 
She blazed up suddenly. " I'd die 
Of shame when people passed me by! 
I should go crazed of nights a-thinking 
What men would say when they were drinking! 
How do you think those men would speak 
Of me, who's never let my cheek 
Come near a man's lips in my life 
Till you came courting? ^ Jim Dale's wife 
That nearly was, but wasn't quite ! ' 
Look at me! Must I face their spite? 
I was well thought of till you came. 
Am I the one to bear such shame? " 
Jim answered, but his voice rang flat: 
" No, you're not one to suffer that. 
I'll not be going. I was wild. 
I didn't mean it: don't be riled." 
Maggie was still before she spoke. 
Have you felt spells in March that woke 
The almond buds to bloom, so still 
You might have heard the daffodil 
Unfold in that warm lull? Then notes 
Of birds come tender from their throats, 
And even old hearts must revive 
To feel the world come new alive. 

119 



Then, if you're old enough, or young, 
Soft words come easier on your tongue 
Because the birds sing, and your ears 
Catch meanings in things calling tears. 
When Maggie spoke I knew the world 
Was all made new, and joy unfurled 
Green shoots in me to greet the sun 
For triumph in her dear heart had won. 
*' You said you loved me, Jim, my dear," 
She said, so soft, and proud, and clear, 
The air was moved as by a breeze. 
And Jim fell crying on his knees. 
" I do — I love you — I do — I say 
I love you, Maggie 1 " 

" In your way. 
My dear, you do, but that's not much. 
You that must always feel through touch, 
You're feared to see me look like Mother, 
You think that time and work can smother 
Beauty you've known by love ! Ask Dad 
If they've lost any joy they've had! 
I've seen them look across this room 
With happy eyes that lit the gloom, 
Although my Mother cannot stir 
Dad's pulses when he touches her! 
You that fear beauty going out. 
And magic with it, you that doubt 
Our strength and love's, looking ahead 
To that black time when love is dead, 

120 



Dreaming you'll tramp away to see 

New beauty when mine's gone from me — 

You don't know love ! No, love has sight 

For beauty's spirit burning bright 

When bodies change, as bodies must, 

Like everything that's made from dust. 

This living dust of me and you 

Was made to speak our spirits through, 

For souls are dumb and cannot say 

Their love except through forms of clay, 

And that man's blind who cannot trace 

God's image in another's face; 

But he who sees the clay alone 

Is left with withered flesh and bone, 

And beauty soons goes out for him 

Who never truly saw it, Jim. 

You've never seen me : we always missed 

Each other, even when we kissed. 

Oh, Jim, I love you ! Oh, my dear, 

I'd give my soul to keep you near, 

But I'll not chain you to my side; 

There's no shame left in me, nor pride. 

It's mostly In a woman's hand, 

I think: I understand 

More than I ever knew before. 

Oh, Jim, dear love, you've given me more 

Than other women let go by 

In dreams! That's mine until I die I " 

Then Jim cried out as If he'd seen 

121 



A blazing vision: " Oh, I've been 
A brute, a fool! I'll stay with you I 
Say you forgive me, Maggie, do, 
You lovely woman ! Men are swine I 
Oh, Maggie, how your sweet eyes shine I 
I'll never leave you, Maggie, never." 
*' Ah, Jim, we can't go on forever 
Living like this, so fierce and keen; 
There's little things come in between. 
We can't live like this all the time; 
You'd hate the tracks we'd have to climb." 
*' I'd have a damn good try! " 

*'Ah, no; 
I know you better, Jim: you go." 

^'Oh, Maggie " 

" You've given me all you can, 
And that's as much as any man 
Can do. I think you'll always give 
Joy to some women while you live, 
But you can't give them happiness." 

*' I know I'm not fit to touch your dress 

" Hush, don't say things I wouldn't hear 
From others. Say good-bye, Jim dear. 
Oh, my poor love, poor Jim — don't cry." 
" Damn it — don't pity me ! Good-bye 1 " 
And so It ended. Jim rushed out 
Crying a piteous, anguished shout 
Which left me cold as heartless stone, 

122 



11 



Because I heard poor Maggie moan: 

She cried, but she was very still, 

She must have stood like ice, until 

She heard the door-latch move, and Harry 

Came in. " Dad, I'm not going to marry," 

She said; but then no more; no blame, 

No reasons why. Then Harry came 

And took her hands. " Your mother said 

She'd like a boy when we was wed," 

He whispered; " but I always knew 

I'd like a girl, and that come true. 

A woman like her was what I thought." 

He paused, then said: " She's overwrought 

With all them glasses. Could you dry 

Your eyes and help her put them by? " 

" Yes, Dad," she said, and then they went 

Like children, hand in hand. 

Fm spent 
With telling all this. Maggie, peace 
Lay on you till the sharp pangs cease. 
There's little each for each can do. 
Not even when their hearts are true. 
And through this maze of bitter strife 
No man can read the aim of life. 
But I am near the end. I'm going 
To reap the harvest of my sowing. 
I shall see It all one day. 
I shall learn love's rightful way! 

123 



Only one thing IVe learned quite plain 
Here on this earth: no love is vain! 
Rest you, my darling, rest you, dear, 
There's hope In life while that shines clear! 



124 



O MY beloved, how to keep friends with time, 
Whose monster knees press life from our sick souls 
While we his creaking mill of hours climb, 
Must be our task until the dark wheel rolls 
Into new light: light fled when you and I, 
Whose life is one, kissed and were wrenched apart. 
But love must teach us, sweet, how not to die, 
Quicken our brains to this laborious art, 
Lest, when our day of resurrection break, 
The long stagnation poison our first breath. 
And we, whose dream was this reunion, wake 
To eyes glazed over with a film of death. 
O love, shall you and I, by love made free, 
Give time and space inglorious victory? 



125 



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